Skills ministry to subsume units from 19 ministries

Despite some resistance from various ministries, the government is finalising the contours of the new ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship which will take over skilling initiatives from all other government agencies.

A decision on its final shape is expected soon, said three officials familiar with the development. The Cabinet Secretariat is expected to make changes in the Allocation of Business Rules of the government to allow agencies related to skilling and entrepreneurship to be consolidated into the new ministry.

The decision is expected after an inter-ministerial consultation by the Prime Minister’s Office earlier this month.

“Views of all the 18-20 ministries involved in skilling were taken at the meeting in early July. Now we are expecting that something will be announced soon but the transition would take some time,” said one of the officials.

So for instance, the director general of employment and training in the labour ministry that runs industrial training institutes and skilling initiatives could be transferred to the new ministry along with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that was set up by the finance ministry.

Similarly, skill development and entrepreneurship agencies with the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises are expected to be merged with the new ministry as well as the technical training division in the ministry of human resources development.

With a vision of creating a “Skilled India”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had created the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship a day after assuming office and had allocated the portfolio to Sarbananda Sonowal, who is also minister of state (independent charge for sports and youth affairs).

The ministry has no officers at present and the minister continues to work out of his office in the ministry of sports and youth affairs.

“With the new ministry now being set up, there will now be an inter-ministerial integrated effort,” Sonowal had earlier told The Indian Express.

However, sources said that many ministries have expressed unhappiness over the pruning of their roles. The department of economic affairs is understood to have pitched for retaining NSDC within the finance ministry, while similar rumbles have also come from the labour ministry.

“It is ultimately a political decision and out of our hands,” an official, however, pointed out.

Though the UPA government had set a target of skilling 500 million youth by 2022, formal training in India is still abysmally low compared to other countries. Currently, only 10 per cent of the workers between the ages of 15 and 59 years have some amount of professional training in India, of which just an abysmal 2.5 per cent have professional training.

In contrast, globally on average, 60 per cent to 80 per cent of a country’s workforce is skilled.



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